Thursday, 20 November 2008

Lively not looking so lively anymore

Lively - Google's chat room with knobs on - is to close.  I can't say I'm sorry - I didn't like it much anyway!  But I am a little surprised.  Not because I thought it was good enough to stick around but because I thought Google might have the will, and the effort, to make it better.

Object zero

Hanging around in the ReLive 08 area on Open Life where we briefly discussed object zero - the desire to tidy up your inventory such that there are no items called 'Object'.

For the record... my inventory - which is quite small I think - is nowhere near!

Notice the 'avatar wall' in the background - presumably representing all the delegates at ReLive 08.  Nice.

Would have been nice to have the video streams displayed in-world though - I don't understand why this didn't happen.  The streams were in the right format and everything.  Shame :-(  It would have made it a much more immersive experience for those of us not able to be there in person.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Voice survey

I'm not a big fan of voice in SL for various reasons.  Just about the only time I use it is if I am giving an in-world presentation (usually to a group of avatars).  Other than that I use chat.

I note that Fleep Tuque is currently running a survey about people reaction to and use of voice in Second Life:
We are inviting you to tell us about your experiences in Second Life as part of a research study. 
Since Linden Lab released voice communication options in August, 2007, some residents have chosen to use it and other have not.  The following survey will help us understand how you communicate with others in-world.  The results of this questionnaire will help give advice to new residents and provide a better understanding of your experiences in-world as current residents. 
It should only take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.  Even if you did not use voice, please consider giving us your feedback.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The Linden Prize

An interesting announcement from Linden Labs, with a significant incentive to get busy:

The Linden Prize will award one Second Life Resident or team with $10,000 USD for an innovative inworld project that improves the way people work, learn and communicate in their daily lives outside of the virtual world. This annual award is intended to align with Linden Lab’s company mission, which is to connect all people to an online world that advances the human condition.

Yes... that's USD not L$!

On the face of it, I think educational, healthcare or charitable projects in SL should stand a good chance, given that all three use Second Life to bring about change for the better in the real world.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Club Penguin

Again from the mailing list:

Thursday 6th November at 8am SL time (4pm UK time) on Infolit iSchool.  Children in a virtual world: Jackie Darkstone (Professor Jackie Marsh, Department of Education, University of Sheffield, UK in RL) will talk about her research into schoolchildren's use of the virtual world Club Penguin.  

This is part of the regular CILR/ Infolit iSchool discussion series. 

Monday, 3 November 2008

UK educators

From the UK mailing list:
Sheila Yoshikawa (Sheila Webber in RL) will lead an exploration of Sheffield University's island, Infolit iSchool, from the Departmental offices to the Hobbit House and beyond. Sheila will discuss the different types of space and their uses, the value of using prefabs, and issues concerned with embedding information in SL locations without leading to notecard hell. 

Infolit iSchool has been used by Information Studies for a year (for teaching and educator/librarian discussions), and now Sheffield's Education Department has also started activities.

Monday Nov 10, 12 noon SL time (8pm UK time)

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

YAOEE - yet another orientation experience for educators

Linden Lab and ISTE have combined forces to launch a new educators pilot programme - essentially a new SL registration and orientation experience, targetted at educators.

Quite nice... though I'm slightly struggling to understand how it differs from the work that NMC put into their education orientation experience?

Here's my latest alt - Hughling Wulluf - created using the new facility (note that checking whether your chosen name is already in use is slightly tedious using this interface because you have to re-supply your password (twice) each time - I wanted Howling Wulluf but it wasn't available).  Hughling is watching the introductory video in the new ISTE orientation area.

Good to see that the Sloodle tools are available in the resources area :-)

As I mentioned when I reviewed the NMC orientation experience, one of the problems with this kind of generic approach (less generic than the main SL registration admittedly but still pretty generic) is that it doesn't cater well for national (or more local) requirements - there is nothing here specifically for UK educators for example.  Should there be?

One final thought... the most valuable part of any orientation experience is meeting and chatting to helpful people.  When I used this new facility there was no-one around to talk to.  So although the content I found was education-specific, the experience overall was rather disappointing.  IMHO the most useful thing that these kinds of initiatives could do would be to create a rota of willing educational volunteers - people who are happy to hang around welcoming new avatars to the world.  My guess is that doing so would have much more impact than new builds and resources.  That said, I appreciate that setting this kind of thing up isn't going to be easy.

National Workshop in Learning in Immersive Worlds

Just in case you haven't seen this announcement via other routes... live footage of the National Workshop in Learning in Immersive Worlds will be streamed on to Coventry Island in Second Life on Thursday 23rd October from 10am (UK time).

Unfortunately, I won't be able to be there because of other commitments :-(

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Virtual World Watch

Virtual World Watch is officially launched today - well, as 'officially' as we're going to get anyway! VWW will continue the series of snapshots that have been undertaken by Silversprite Helsinki (the latest of which will hopefully be made public tomorrow) as well as broadening the scope of the work to information about:
  1. Alternatives to Second Life, especially alternatives that do not have some of the technological, logistical or financial hurdles that some feel Second Life to have.
  2. What is currently being researched in the application of virtual worlds to education. The peer-reviewed publication system means it is difficult to determine current trends.
  3. Where more research or survey data concerning virtual world use in education, or other such proof or evidence – of academic quality – can be found.

VWW is funded by the Eduserv Foundation.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Teaching and learning with MUVEs

This looks like an interesting peer to peer learning programme (whatever that is!) for those who wish to grow the use of MUVEs in their teaching practice:
The European funded MUVEnation project is now launching 'Teaching and learning with MUVEs'. This is a one year postgraduate programme, delivered online, for future and in-service teachers who want to use innovative methods and tools to address learners motivation and participation issues in compulsory education.
For full details see the announcement.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Scientific Researchers and Web 2.0: Social 'NotWorking'?

Nature Publishing Group and the BL have got together to organise an event that will be streamed into Second Life looking at how researchers can use Web 2.0.  The event will feature Dr Timo Hannay of NPG.

It takes place tomorrow (Weds, 24th Sept 2008) and starts at 18.00 (UK time).

Virtual World Watch

I got some new Virtual World Watch project Moo cards this morning ready for handing out at my SL for events talk on Thursday.  Virtual World Watch is being funded by Eduserv as a continuation of the snapshots that we've funded over the last year or so.  The work will continue to be undertaken by Silversrite Helsinki.

The cards came very quickly (much sooner than advertised).  If I'd known how quick they'd arrive I'd have spent more time designing them!

Oh well... they'll do the job I guess.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Using SL to support events

I'm speaking at a JISC Services skills event in Oxford next week about how virtual worlds such as Second Life can be used to support events.

I plan to do the whole talk in-world, to give the RL audience a better feel for what is possible.

I'll be using in-world voice and will provide an in-world copy of my slides.  It would be great to have a SL audience as well, particularly if you are willing to offer your views on what is good and bad about virtual world events.  I'll allow plenty of time for some RL/SL cross-over discussion at the end.  (We'll probably use chat for the discussion part).

My talk will be on Thurs 25th Sept and will start at 15.30 (UK time - UTC+1) and run for about an hour.  I'll be in the Virtual Congress Centre on Eduserv Island.

Hope to see you there...

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Rural-urban Learning through Authenticity Symbiosis in Agritourism

Georgeous Parx (George Pop - RL), a Tourism Marketing Masters student from University of Surrey, will be presenting "Rural-urban Learning through Authenticity Symbiosis in Agritourism", on Tuesday 2nd September, 2008, 12.00pm SLT (20.00pm UK) at the Virtual Congress Centre on Eduserv Island.

He will focus on agritourism, analysing authenticity demand and supply, authenticity through complexity, learning free will interaction with mutual knowledge and expertise exchange.

Everyone welcome.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Sloodle Island coming soon

Dan Livingstone of the Sloodle project (which we happen to fund :-) ) has made the following announcement to the mailing list:
Hi all,

For information, the Sloodle project ( should have its new island open within the next few weeks. Plots of land will be available free to educators who will be using Sloodle with their classes. Sloodle features a number of tools which integrate learning and teaching activities across the open source Moodle VLE and Second Life (chat, blog, quizzes, 'choice' voting tool, glossaries and gradebook courseworks)

If your institution does not use Moodle, or if you ar unable to have Sloodle installed we may also be able to offer support with Moodle hosting for your classes.

If you are interested, please reply here:


Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Three panel sessions at the Chilbo summer fair

In a way, I wish I was part of Chilbo - part of me is dead envious cos it looks like a fun community.

As part of their summer fair there are three interesting looking panel sessions coming up - the first tonight. I'm guessing that they will all be well worth attending.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Identity, gender and death

We make money not art has an interesting piece about the work of Marc Owens, including a description of a RL virtual transgender suit and an facility known as Second Death which will terminate your avatar after a random amount of time in-world (terminate as in permanently delete the account).

The first would probably go down a storm at SLCC?

The second is quite interesting. One might say, I suppose, that our avatars die when we do, or when the virtual world(s) in which they are manifested die (whichever comes first)? As I've argued before, I think the personas we see in our avatars are bigger than a particular avatar in a particular virtual world and I'm not sure I have a particular desire to feel virtual grief in the way described here anyway. But it's an interesting project nonetheless.

Incorrect behaviour?

Interesting post on the OpenHabitat blog (OpenHabitat is a JISC-Funded project) discussing an in-world meeting that went "wrong" and the coping strategies that attendees adopted to cope with the "wrongness".

The tentative conclusion is that in-world voice should be used to augment in-world chat (i.e. that chat remains the primary communication method but that the noises-off provided by voice can be used to indicate the status of the various participants).

Nice idea... especially for those, like me, who don't like in-world voice much.

It reminds me a little of the story we heard at the wrap-up meeting of the Learning from Virtual Worlds: Teaching in Second Life project about students who self-organised themselves into using in-world chat for communication and in-world voice to share music with each other.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Barriers to innovation

Steven Warburton has a nice post on Liquid Learning discussing the barriers to innovation in virtual worlds in the context of teaching and learning.
He suggests 6 areas in which there are barriers - technical, identity, culture, collaboration, time and economic - which seems like a useful breakdown to me.

He closes with a discussion about the choice of technology for a remote presentation with colleagues from the UK to an audience in Kuala Lumpur. In short, Elluminate was chosen over Second Life:
Not only were we going to have to trust the technical robustness of the platform (gulp) but we were also forced to assess the question of added value from using Second Life? Fighting server lag, low bandwidth problems, variable audio quality and the sheer awkwardness of manipulating an in-world slide viewer were just too much to contemplate so we shifted to the Elluminate.
While this doesn't seem unreasonable given the nature of the presentation (RL presenters speaking to a RL audience) he ends with:
here is a vision for SL that would help make it more usable - a whiteboard, an integrated IRC type chat client and a status indicator panel.
I suppose so... though SL already has an "IRC type chat client" (in-world chat - which in my experience serves perfectly well as a back-channel while voice is being used to carry the main presentation) and status indicator (just ask people to '/clap' or chat something when you want explicit acknowledgement). I agree that the whiteboard is missing and as I've argued elsewhere, this highlights SL's fundamental problem with handling text-like documents in any collaborative sense.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Virtual Policy '08

Apologies for the cross-post, but I've written up my contribution to the education panel session at Virtual Policy '08 on eFoundations.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Submit your machinima to 4mations

4mations, an animation company based in Bristol, UK and backed by Channel 4, Aardman Animations and Lupus Films, will start offering cash prizes next month for animations uploaded to its Web site.

I've checked with them and machinima made in Second Life (or other MUVEs for that matter) are eligible for the prizes.

So, if you're feeling creative, why not give it a go?

Calling all environmental students or other interested parties...

I blogged about Carbon Goggles the other day.

Coincidentally, I bumped into Babbage Linden at the Virtual Policy '08 event in London on Tuesday and he wondered if I knew of anyone (individuals or groups) who might be able to help him tag in-world objects with enough information to enable his software to grab carbon emissions information dynamically from AMEE.

I presume that the tagging process itself is pretty simple. I wonder if someone could turn this activity into some kind of introductory learning exercise for students new to Second Life? "Find 10 in-world objects that represent real-world objects and tag them for Carbon Goggles", kind of thing? Or perhaps it's something that a group of students might get into for its own sake?

Whatever... if you are interested, get in touch with Babbage Linden in-world. I'm sure he'd be happy to talk to you about it.

Prim toes!

Some of you will know that I use a Second Life alt to run an in-world shoe business, BB Shoes. Note that I'm using the words 'run' and 'business' very loosely since as I put very little effort into it these days and consequently haven't actually sold (m)any shoes for some time.

Recently, I've been putting the downturn in my entrepreneurial success down to my lack of sculptie-shoes - something that every cobbler in Second Life should have in their arsenal. Unfortunately, I appear to have neither the right tools nor any skill in creating them and so am sculptie-less for the time being.

However, I just realised that there might be another reason why nobody is interested in my shoes - the women's styles at least - no prim toes!

Good grief - whatever next?

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Virtual Goggles and carbon emissions

I meant to blog this a while back but never got round to it. Carbon Goggles is a novel experiment by Jim Purbrick of Linden Lab that allows people to tag in-world representations of RL objects in such a way that their carbon emission data (pulled dynamically from AMEE) is displayed floating over each object.

The project, which was initially developed during a 24 hour period at the Mashed '08 event in London) uses a HUD (Heads Up Display) that computes where the object is in your field of view, then positions the text to make it look as though it is floating over the object.

The video probably makes things clearer:

Carbon Goggles from Jim Purbrick on Vimeo.

Very clever.

I've been wondering about taking the underlying HUD visualisation software and using it to display Second Friends information (e.g. a RL name) over any avatar in your field of view who happens to be one of your Second Friends.

Virtual Policy '08

I'm taking part in a panel session at the Virtual Policy '08 conference later today. The conference is being held in London over the next two days and has been organised by the Virtual Policy Network in conjunction with The Department of Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform with New York Law School providing program support.
The key policy themes for this year's event are:
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Financial transaction
  • Child online & education
  • Innovation
Sounds like fun!

Monday, 7 July 2008

Where are the new approaches?

Stephen Downes (rightly) complains that we spend too much time in Second Life (SL) blandly re-creating what we would do in real life - particularly in the context of teaching and learning, meetings and so on. It's not clear to me whether he was complaining about the SL platform itself, or the people making use of the platform but he was good enough to publish a series of comments on his original post - essentially pointing out that blaming SL for the tendency of its users to re-create what they do in real life (RL) is like blaming PowerPoint for bad presentations.

I quite like this quote:
Bertrand Russell said that "people like to die by the latest method." He could have been talking about Second Life.
Speaking only for myself, I have as little imagination as the next bloke, probably less. I broadly agree with where Stephen is coming from - I am crap at thinking up different ways of presenting stuff to audiences in-world - but I also think that there are times when simply replicating a RL activity is perfectly OK. I recently spoke about Second Life at the UCISA User Support Conference (to a real audience of about 100 and a virtual audience of about 15). Roo Reynolds, who was on stage in the RL venue immediately before me suggested that I was about to show them something innovative and new, at which point I proceeded to use SL to show a series of PowerPoint slides on a very traditional-looking screen in something that looked very like a traditional lecture theater. Doh! :-(

In terms of what I was trying to do on the day, which was primarily about introducing the RL audience to SL, I think my chosen pedagogy worked reasonably well. Yes, I could have built a more innovative 'lecture space' - though I have no idea about what such a thing might look like. Yes, I could have used a non-lecture-based pedagogy - though I don't know what I'd have done instead, given the size of the audience and the fact that it was partly in the RL venue and partly in SL.

Suggestions on a postcard please...

Stephen refers to a panel session:
I was part of a panel in Second Life on Monday, and what struck me was how it took place in a virtual lecture hall, and one by one, we all went up to the podium, showed some slides, and lectured to an audience of avatars seated in virtual chairs. We know how to bore you in a classroom, and now we know how to bore you online.
So how could this have been made to work better? Sure, there are trivial things that could have been done... don't make the room look like a lecture hall for a start? Don't provide chairs? Don't provide a podium? Would any of these made the session any better?

Don't allow the use of slides? Seems kind of like throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Don't give panel members speaking slot at all? Erm...

I think there are interesting possibilities in terms of using your avatar's position in the meeting space and/or colors or other indicators to show how you feel about what is currently being said. That might work well in the context of a panel - where presumably some position (or positions) on a particular topic are being discussed.

On the other hand, discussions in SL tend to be relatively unstructured and chaotic (is that SL's most novel feature?) and my suspicion is that trying to indicate a coherent feeling around a range of disparate threads in a multi-way conversation might be very difficult.

Despite my general skepticism about voice in SL, I do think that it has a place in meeting-like scenarios, i.e. in situations in which there is a speaker who, temporarily at least, is given the floor. Using voice for the speaker is much more efficient and effective than carrying everything by chat. More importantly, it leaves chat open as the back-channel for discussion by the people listening.

I think there are some difficult issues in this area. It's easy to knock SL as a place where unimaginative people simply re-create what happens in the real world. But there are valid reasons why that is done, at least in some cases.

Over to you... how would you use SL to share and discuss 4 positions on a topic without it simply looking like a re-creation of a traditional RL panel session?

Friday, 4 July 2008

Uptown top banking

According to the AvaStar, the banks are back, though only those that have been accredited by Linden Lab.

Can anyone explain what the use-case is for using a Second Life bank? I can't really see why anyone would want to do so unless they are somehow able to offer better interest than I could reasonably get in RL. Am I being thick? Is it just to cater for residents that "do not have Paypal or a major U.S. credit card account in USD"?

Quick experiment... LeeX (a European SL-accredited bank) is offering a special deal right now, L$10,000 for 27.40 Euros - that's US$43.01. I'm assuming that this includes any transaction charges - I did try signing up to LeeX to confirm this but I couldn't make the Web site work properly.

Whatever... on LindenX (i.e. buying L$ thru the Second Life Web site) I can get L$11275 for $43.01. So, on the face of it, LeeX looks like a bad deal.

In both cases I will be charged some commission by Paypal because I bank in UK pounds sterling in RL and I'm buying L$ in either US dollars or Euros. I don't know if I am charged the same commission for US dollars and Euros.

OK, I'm confused... I still don't really understand why I should care that there are banks in SL.

Can someone enlighten me??


The Dorkbot session that has been arranged for 6 July 1:00 pm PDT / 22:00 CET at the Odyssey Simulator sounds good, particularly to people with an interest in machinima:
JJ Ventrella (a.k.a. Ventrella Linden) will present the avatar puppeteering project. A project motivated to bring more expression to the avatar, by enabling a more fluid and direct way to manipulate the ‘physical avatar’. This is a Linden Lab project that unfortunetely was ‘put to sleep’ as Linden Lab decided to focus on the stability of Second Life and internal opinions differed over how compelling the feature really is. Last month however, Linden Lab released the client source code of this project, to allow other people to build on it (and convince them otherwise).
Apart from anything else, the name is great!

Monday, 23 June 2008

SLEDcc2008 on Twitter

I blogged SLEDcc2008 a while back... if you are interested in keeping up to date, note that the organisers have now set up a Twitter feed.

Happy SL5B

Today is Second Life's 5th birthday - a substantial milestone by any measure. Congrats to Linden Lab and the wider community for getting us this far.

Here's to the next 5...

Orange Island Photo Week

This caught my eye, partly because I'm an Orange customer in RL...

Orange are running a photo week on their island this week. Sounds interesting.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Immersion and embodiment

I touched on "embodiment" in my last post which was something that also came up in discussion during the Learning From Online Worlds; Teaching In Second Life event last week.

Mark Childs (SL: Gann McGann) sent me thru some material by email based on the work he is doing on his PhD. I find this stuff fascinating. 'Yer tis (with permission)...
Immerion and embodiment

Here's a summary of the stuff from my PhD on immersive and embodiment tendencies: hope it's of interest. The stuff relating immersion with watching movies is from:

Sheridan, T. (1992) “Musings on telepresence and virtual presence”. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 1 (1), 120 - 126

Immersive tendencies

One of the factors that Steuer (1995; 40) identifies that promote mediated presence is “the characteristics of the individual experiencing the environment”. Newman (2005; 3) describes people with high immersive tendencies as people who:

"are able to block external distractions and become very focused, to the point where they become unaware of their immediate environment and the passage of time" - Newman (2005; 3).

People who have stronger immersive tendencies will report a higher feeling of presence in virtual environments (Kaber, Draper and Usher, 2002; 392).

Immersive tendencies are “thought to be dependent on aspects of human cognition and behaviour, including concentration, imagination, and self-control” (Psotka and Davison, 1993; quoted in Kaber, Draper and Usher, 2002; 392). Other researchers have found a correlation between daydreaming and becoming lost in novels and immersive tendencies (Witmer and Singer, 1994; quoted in Kaber, Draper and Usher, 2002; 392).

Embodiment tendencies

Heeter (1995; 200) identified two characteristics of users, which she stated as being propensities for involvement in virtual worlds; these are the propensity to engage belief in a virtual world (equivalent to Newman’s “immersive tendency” [2005; 3]) and the propensity to engage belief in a virtual body (an “embodiment tendency”). Heeter found that this propensity varied from individual to individual.

In her study, participants engaged in a 3D virtual world in which the participants’ image was superimposed over computer-generated images projected on a screen. Heeter refers to this as second person VR, although it is evidently more appropriate to refer to this as third person VR. The 3D effect was created through the screen being observed through stereoscopic viewers. The participants were asked whether their off-screen physical body, their image on the screen, or both, felt like their real self. Heeter found that 29% to 31 % of respondents “felt as if ‘the being on the screen’ was their real self”, 26% to 29% felt that their physical body was their real self and 40% to 42% felt that both were real (Heeter, 1995; 200). Heeter comments:

“The percentages were surprisingly consistent across different audiences and different virtual experiences. … About one fourth of the population is so strongly situated in the real world and their real body that they have a difficult time becoming involved in a virtual world.” (Heeter, 1995; 200).

Heeter, C. (1995). “Communication research on consumer VR”. Biocca, F. and Levy, & M. R. (eds.), Communication in the age of virtual reality (pp. 191-218). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Kaber, D.B., Draper, J.V. and Usher, J.M. (2002) Influence of Individual Differences on Application Design for Individual and Collaborative Immersive Virtual Environments in Stanney, K.M. (ed) Handbook of Virtual Environments; Design Implementation and Applications, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 379 - 402

Newman, K. (2005) “Albert in Africa: Online Role-playing and Lessons from Improvisational Theatre” Computers in Entertainment, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2005
Steuer, J. (1995) “Defining virtual reality: Dimensions determining telepresence” in Biocca, F. and Levy, M.R. , Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality, Lawrence Erlbaum
Feel free to add comments here but I suggest you send any substantial follow-ups directly to Mark / Gann.

Virtually educated - the reality of using Second Life and other virtual worlds in FE

I gave a presentation at the JISC RSC-SW Summer Conference a couple of days ago...

Not my best ever presentation, partly because I'd structured it into 4 areas that were only semi-related to each other and partly because the room was quite full and we were projecting my slides onto a side wall so that Chris Swaine (Chris Eggplant) could live-demo Second Life while I was talking. Thanks to Chris for doing this - it gave some distraction for those who were bored by what I was saying... more importantly it gave a room full of people who were mostly quite new to Second Life a real sense of what it is about.

My talk was preceded by a talk by Chris and Susan Williams, both of EducationUK Island, who gave a very nice general introduction to Second Life and its use in education.

Anyway, here are my slides:

The most contentious point in the presentation (I think) was when I said that up to 90% of people (i.e. students and staff) will not "get" SL - by which I meant that they will not understand the point of it or identify with being "in" a virtual world. It was certainly the thing that people picked up on most in questions at the end. This figure comes from a comment by Babbage Linden in the in-world meeting that we held following last year's symposium, where he suggested that "only 1 in 10 people get Second Life anyway".

Thinking about it now, I have no idea if this is a reasonable proportion to quote or not - and I should have probably made this clearer on the slide. It's related to issues around feeling "embodiment" (or not) in virtual worlds, as well as to more general issues around the sense of "coolness" (or not) that people associate with Second Life.

I'd be very interested to hear people's views on this.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Open Habitat

I mentioned the Open Habitat project in my last post but didn't highlight their blog (because I hadn't spotted it!). There's some interesting stuff there, particularly around our notions of online identity and what it means to collaborate in virtual worlds.

Worth keeping an eye on I think...

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Playing with OpenSim

I'm on the advisory group for the JISC Open Habitat project which is doing interesting things with groups of art & design and philosophy students in Second Life. We met up briefly the other day and, amongst other things, discussed the experimentation they have been doing with OpenSim.

In short, they've been using a dedicated instance of OpenSim as a 'safe' place to introduce a group of art & design students to the basic concepts of virtual worlds like Second Life - 'safe' in the sense of it being a sandbox area, with no-one else around.

Having got students familiar with the basic concepts - moving, flying, chat, simple building, etc. - they then gave them a paper exercise to help them choose their SL avatar name. The exercise involved thinking about the choice of second names available from LL, choosing one, finding out where it came from, then prefixing it with a first name of their own choosing.

The idea, I think, is that this added investment into the choice of name encourages the students to identify more closely with their avatar.

Only at that point did they let students anywhere near the real Second Life registration pages and orientation experience.

As far as I could tell this process seems to have worked quite well - at least for that group of art & design students. Of course, it is likely that art & design students are not typical of students more generally.

Inspired by the work of the project, I thought I'd have a quick play with OpenSim on my home PC. It's very easy to get up and running and works with the standard Second Life client (with a few run-time arguments). Here's a picture of a "ruthed" Art Fossett on my very own sim.

Playing with Picnik

On Eduserv Island
Originally uploaded by Art Fossett
Torley recently announced a short video tutorial showing how to use Picnik to take snapshots of Web pages. Over Twitter, I asked him how he moved SL snapshots into Flickr and he replied saying that he used SLBuzz, which can receive images direct from SL using email and which has an option to forward on any images to your Flickr account.

I joined SLBuzz a while ago but then forgot about it. I just tried again, and getting snapshots from SL into it seems very straightforward. I haven't got the syncing with Flickr to work yet - not sure why? But it doesn't matter too much because I've also installed the Firefox Picnik add-on which allows me to right-click on the image in SLBuzz and take it directly into Picnik.

Once there, I can edit it as I see fit, then save direct to my Art Fossett Flickr account.

From Flickr, I can blog the image directly into here, via my Blogger account.

Everything happens without touching my laptop disk drive and without having to run Gimp. Don't get me wrong... I like Gimp and use it all the while. But the, save to disk, load into Gimp, save to disk, upload to blog routine was getting pretty tedious.

I'll try the new process for a while and see how I get on. It's not perfect, but I think it's better than what I was doing before.

Chat logs and live blogging - to publish or not to publish, that is the question

IYan Writer argues that publishing chat logs of meetings is not only unhelpful as a record of the meeting but downright harmful (because it pollutes Google search results), Event chat transcripts considered harmful.

I can't bring myself to totally agree (largely because I have published such things in the past and will probably do so again) but I understand where he is coming from. I think there probably is a time and place for publishing full transcripts (hey, I'm as lazy as the next person) but I also agree very strongly with IYan, that investing time in summarising the issues for people provides something far more meaningful and useful.

I live-blogged the Learning From Online Worlds; Teaching In Second Life final meeting held yesterday at the London Knowledge Lab (UK). This was the final meeting of a project that we (the Eduserv Foundation) funded about a year ago and featured talks by project staff (Diane Carr, Martin Oliver and Andrew Burn), Britta Pollmuller, Tanya Krzywinska and Aleks Krotoski. It was a great event but I'm slightly worried that my live-blogging attempt isn't much more useful than a transcript even as useful as a transcript.

The trouble with live blogging is that you don't really get time to draw out the themes - it's just a stream of consciousness, driven by what the speakers are saying. This was made worse yesterday because I felt I didn't understand the space being talked about well enough to summarise (or even capture at some points) in a useful way.

Live-blogging is a real art - and one that I'm still learning. Someone said to me after the meeting yesterday that it's not just about taking notes - to a certain extent you are also putting on a performance - you are interacting with a remote audience as well as trying to track what is happening in the room. Not an easy thing to so. That said, I'm reasonably convinced it is a worthwhile investment of my own time - if nothing else, I find that committing myself to live-blogging an event, forces me to pay attention to things far more closely than I otherwise would. The major problems arise where you want to ask questions of the live speakers and/or engage in debate in the room - at which point live-blogging has to go on hold for a while.

Thursday, 12 June 2008


Planning for the Second Life Education Community Conference 2008 is underway. See the wiki for details. Volunteers wanted!

SLEDcc2008 is part of the annual Second Life Community Convention, this year being held in Tampa, Florida, US (and in-world of course) between Sept 5-7 2008.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Twitter and Second Friends

Twitter is mildly borked right now which has interrupted the flow of tweet bubbles from my Second Friends Tweeters. In dealing with their performance problems, the Twitter folks seem to have done two things...

Firstly, they now require HTTP Basic Authentication for all GET requests against 'friends timeline' RSS feeds - up until recently these feeds were openly available to anyone AFAIK. This actually makes sense, and simply mirrors the access control imposed on the Twitter Web site, so I'm not complaining - but it took me a while to realise why my feed requests were always coming back empty.

Secondly, Twitter seems to be throttling back the number of requests that can be made against the RSS feed in any given period, serving an empty feed if you go over the limit. This is somewhat annoying, though understandable, and I think they've always done it to some extent. But the point at which throttling cuts in seems to happen very quickly now. More importantly, I'd prefer them to return some kind of HTTP error code rather than an empty feed - at least then it would be easier to take some kind of sensible action, like backing off for a few minutes.

Whatever... to get round this limitation I've introduced some server-side caching between my in-world 'tweeter' script and the Twitter feed itself (all access to the feed goes via a server-side Perl script in any case). This means that I should never hit the RSS feed more than once every 5 minutes or so - irrespective of how many people use the in-world tweeter.

Again, this is basically a good thing - and the fact I was having problems indicates I had implemented in a slightly sloppy way. Oh well, live and learn. In general, one of the things I'm finding with building SL / Web 2.0 mashups is that you need to think carefully about where HTTP requests are being made, how often they are happening, and what throttling is likely to cut in at what point. Otherwise, you tend to leave something chugging away all hunky dory and come back a few days later to find it malfunctioning in some way.

For most Twitter applications, a delay of up to 5 minutes before seeing a tweet would be unacceptable, but in the case of the Second Friends Tweeter, which is largely a gimmick, I think it is perfectly OK.

Friday, 6 June 2008

ReLIVE2008 - second call for abstracts

The Open University is pleased to announce a second call for abstract submissions for the international conference for Researching Learning in Virtual Environments to be held at its campus in Milton Keynes on the 20th and 21st of November 2008.
Sounds interesting... particularly with keynotes by both Edward Castranova and Roo Reynolds. Full details are available from the ReLIVE2008 conference Web site. The organisers are looking for papers, workshops/symposiums, posters and in-world events.
If you are currently researching learning in a virtual world, for example There, CyberTown, Second Life etc, then we invite you to submit an abstract to ReLIVE08. We are seeking presenters and participants who have experience of designing and delivering learning in virtual worlds, and the ability to reflect on and share that experience within an analytical framework. Please note that the closing date for the second call is the 20th of June.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Second Friends reaches 1000

I've been AFK for a week or so, on RL holiday, which means I missed the 1000th Second Friends registration.

Looks like second friend number 1000 was Luciftias Neurocam who will be receiving a Second Friends t-shirt in honor of the occasion.

Yes, alright... I know that Second Friends isn't the biggest Social Network evar! But 1000 is a nice round number and deserves to be noticed in some form.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Second Friends tweeter now available

In general, I'm going to try and do better at making my in-world stuff available to other people. To that end, I've made my Second Friends Tweeter available.

This tool takes a modified RSS feed and turns it into a series of bubbles that get blown away in the SL wind.

Out of the box it works with the Second Friends Twitter stream (the latest tweets by people signed up to Second Friends and who have registered their Twitter account) - it could easily be made to work against any RSS feed. The server-side script that I use to process the RSS feed is available here.

Have fun!

Friday, 23 May 2008

MeetingPod now available

The MeetingPod was one of the first significant things I built in Second Life, so I feel a certain fondness for it. It's a small, floating, meeting room with 8 scripted seats and a hand-raising, automated chairing facility.

Corwin Carillon recently asked me for a copy so I've now packaged it up and made it for sale at L$0 on Eduserv Island (next to the place where you teleport up to the MeetingPod).

Feel free to grab a copy. I've done the packaging in a bit of a rush, so shout if you don't think I've got the permissions right.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Spring 2008 snapshot of UK educational activity in SL now available

The second in our series of three snapshots of UK higher and further education activities in Second Life is now available. This is significantly longer than the previous snapshot(s), reflecting a growth in the level of use and development around Second Life.

The snapshots have been funded by the Eduserv Foundation and undertaken by John Kirriemuir (Silversprite Helsinki). As John notes in the introduction:
The number of UK academics who are developing or operating teaching and learning resources in Second Life (SL) has grown rapidly in the last year. While an accurate figure is difficult to determine (partially due to the non-public nature of some developments), as a rough estimate some three-quarters of UK universities are actively developing or using SL, at the institutional, departmental and/or individual academic level. Of these, many institutions support several ongoing SL developments, often involving groups of people rather than individuals. However, the proportion of UK FE institutions actively using SL was much smaller.
75% of UK universities is a pretty significant proportion - though, of course, the range of activities and level of investment that represents is very variable:
Academics described a very wide range of SL activities spanning teaching, learning, research, performance, construction and demonstration. The key advantage of SL in teaching and learning is that there are many activities in which the student must be more than a passive learner in order to progress. The student has to develop “stuff”, collaborate and participate. Before these can occur, he or she has to master a new and transferable skill set, meaning that, in SL, learning is done more by participating and doing than by listening and absorbing.

Though use of SL in UK HE/FE is growing, many academics are not “welded” to it, being aware of its deficiencies and open to moving to alternative virtual environments, especially open source and more localised versions, in the future.

Overall, and perhaps not surprisingly, the three most mentioned requirements of UK academic
SL developers are:
  • more funding opportunities
  • more time to develop
  • better technical facilities within SL, or a viable alternative environment.

Learning to teach in Second Life

The Learning From Online Worlds; Teaching In Second Life project have a draft report available entitled Learning to Teach in Second Life. Looks interesting...

What follows is a summary of the things that we found out by teaching 4 sessions in Second Life between November 2007 and March 2008, as part of the ‘Learning from Social Worlds; Teaching in Second Life’ project (supported by the Eduserv Foundation, June 2007 to May 2008.). The various pieces of research that we undertook alongside our teaching (examining communities of practice, ‘gate-keeping’, the Second Life ‘pain barrier’, etc.) are not covered in this report. Please note that there are lengthy reflections on our teaching in SL at the project blog, as well as links on a page of SL Resources to information from many other educators working in Second Life.

We found that: Second Life can be useful, that Second Life can be ambiguous, and that participants may have very different perspectives on a session.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Identity crisis?

Wagner James Au has an interesting blog post, Web 2.0 Is The Bridge Between 1st And 2nd Life Identity, suggesting that:
a tremendous level of Second Life activity really takes place within Web 2.0 systems which weren't made with the metaverse in mind. In this mesh of various Internet identities, we reveal different aspects of ourselves on different mediums, depending on the social circles who follow us there. It's a phenomenon we're only beginning to understand, one that Gartner's Adam Sarner dubbed "Generation V" and Botgirl Questi evocatively illustrated on her blog
I left a comment saying that when I recently introduced a limited level of Twitter support into the Second Friends Facebook application I left myself with a small, but very real, identity crisis.
The problem is that I tweet separately as both Andy Powell and Art Fossett and I couldn't work out which one I should link to my Second Friends profile.

It seems to me that the picture is going to get increasingly "confused", especially with expected growth in alternative virtual worlds, alts, etc. There is very little that I do with my first life online identity (email, blog, twitter, etc.) that I don't now also do with my second life online identity and I suspect that this is fairly typical. Art Fossett has a blog, an email account, a Twitter account, and several other outlets. He doesn't have a Facebook page, but only because I chose to surface that particular aspect of his online identity thru the Second Friends Facebook application.

As I join other virtual worlds I anticipate doing so as Art Fossett - at least, that is what I have done to date. I have other virtual world personas - but none of them feel as much a part of me as Art Fossett does. All of which leads one to conclude that Art Fossett is not simply Andy Powell's Second Life avatar but a more general persona which happens to surface most obviously in Second Life currently.

So, back to my dilema about which Twitter account to link to my Second Friends profile... in the end I decided to link my Art Fossett Twitter account to my Second Friends application, figuring that the application is really about linking my Second Life persona(s) to my real life Facebook page - there are other tools for linking in my first life tweets.

Leeds voice session

I did an hour long talk to staff at the University of Leeds earlier today. Most of them were fairly new to SL. The talk was done in-world on Education UK island. The original plan was to use one of the teaching spaces on the island but I noticed there was a large sandbox area, so decided to use that and build my own presentation space, more or less on the fly in front of the attendees.

This is what I came up with. Basically we walked round the tree, looking at each display board in turn, with me dragging new slide textures onto display boards as and when necessary. I also used the 'full bright' option on the texture of the current slide, to highlight what I was talking about.

I think it worked reasonably well.

The session used in-world voice chat and I encouraged participants to ask questions via text chat - which some of them did. We had the usual teething troubles of echo and so on at the beginning, followed by some problems with sound as the talk progressed. Note to self - remind people to keep their camera position close to the speaker. I suspect this is the most common cause of people not hearing properly.

Overall, I remain mildly skeptical about the value of voice in Second Life. I still feel that it destroys much of the immersive quality of the experience. However, in the context of giving a presentation like this one, it is very useful and (just about) works well enough.

Friday, 16 May 2008

NOAA survey

Want to help NOAA decide what to build next in Second Life? Take this short survey...

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Love is...

You wont be told a story, but you will get to live one. Its not what is given to you its what you do when you hold it. The more you give to more you get. Love your planet, and every one who is on it. We know you can, so just go for it. Its the right thing to do, and you know it.
No, I've got no idea what they are banging on about either.

Love is... a game apparently... with very cool screen shots.

Virtual learning, real prizes

The NMC have announced $100,000 worth of prizes (yes, that's US dollars, not L$!) intended to create a collection of innovative open-source learning experiences. Very impressive.

I've been wondering about suggesting that Eduserv offer some prizes at Alt-C this year for innovative and effective learning activities in Second Life but not on this kind of scale.

As the announcement says:
Projects funded under the program will be distinguished by the ways in which they make learning fresh or novel, or by the ways they illuminate topics or concepts that are normally very difficult to teach. Immersive learning experiences are especially encouraged, as are tools or devices intended to support the craft of teaching. The most competitive project proposals will not be limited to a single course or discipline, but will rather have broad applicability.
Note that awards, each of which amounts to $5000, are available for projects in either Second Life or Project Wonderland and come in the form of $500 cash and $4500 expert development assistance.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Seamless textures - part 2

My colleague, Peregrine Juneau, laughed at me the other day for producing a seamless cucumber texture. Quite right too! What was I thinking? Can't remember now... something about developing a cucumber avatar of some kind I think.

Anyway... here's a second attempt, using a Bath stone wall just outside the Eduserv offices (in Bath, UK). Bath stone is what almost all of the city of Bath is constructed out of... it's a soft, light-colored sandstone, local to the area.

It's not perfect, because I took the original image in bright sunshine so it feels a bit flat. Also the lack of mortar in parts of the wall rather stands out. I'll try again soon with a better starting image...

Here's how it looks used on my small patch of floating land on Gourdneck.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Making a seamless cucumber image

I've always wondered how to make a seamlesse texture - i.e. a texture that can be repeated/tiled with no obvious lines between the repeats.

Actually, it's pretty easy to do... at least in theory. I had a play with a cucumber-based image (don't ask!).

Here's what I did:

1) Firstly, I found an image of a single slice of cucumber on Flickr (original by Nick Atkins)- use a fruit or vegetable of your choice.

2) Then I used it to create a random pattern in a 512x512 square.

3) Then I moved the left hand side of the image to the right hand side, the right hand to the left hand, the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top. Luckily most graphics programs have an easy way to do this. In Gimp (which is what I use) go to Layer, Transform, Offset... and then choose the Offset by x/2, y/2 option.


4) Finally, I used the original single image to disguise the resulting lines, being careful to avoid going off any of the edges of the image.

That's it...

You'll probably find that when you upload this and start using it that there'll be obvious repetition points that only become visible once it has been tiled. These will need to be ironed out manually by using the original single image to create a generally uniform appearance over the tiled image as a whole.

Have fun!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Land issues resolved

With reference to the last post and my collapsing 'For Sale' sign... my land issues have now been resolved.

I bought some land on Sinfro a while back thru the Linden Lab land auctions. When I came to try and sell it, I found I couldn't. Dunno why.

Having raised a ticket to get the problem resolved I then waited over 3 weeks for a response to the ticket. Finally I tweeted about my unhappiness with the speed of response and low and behold (though probably by total coincidence in reality) the problem was fixed the next day. Linden took ownership of the land and then sold it to me for L$0 - seems to have done the trick.

Anyway, I've now got the land up for sale at the very reasonable price of L$7000 if anyone is interested.

...or this

Friday, 2 May 2008

You ain't seen nothing like the mighty prim

I've been having fun with a very simple scripted prim idea. Take, one scripted Mighty Prim, copy it as many times as you like, position the resulting blocks where ever you want, then chat

/999 fix

Click on any of the blocks and they'll all collapse in a heap. Wait for 20 seconds and they re-build themselves into your original shape. Simple huh?

So, you can go from this:

to this:

and back again just by clicking and waiting.

Re-position everything and type

/999 fix

again and it'll remember the new set of positions as well, cycling round the saved positions after each collapse.

Repeat at will...

Friday, 25 April 2008

Microsoft makes history in SL

Hah! That's very funny...
Once again we are poised to make history for Microsoft by holding the first ever full-fledged Launch event in Second Life.
Like it!

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Insert cock up

I'm embarrassed :-(. I announced my recent improvements to Second Friends on the SLED list yesterday only to find out today that new registrations haven't been working for a while. Doh :-(

Note to self: when you add fields to a table in a MySQL database, make sure that you also change any code that uses 'insert' to add rows to the table. Otherwise you just get errors about the wrong number of fields and nothing gets updated.

Oh well. As Aldon Hynes noted when I admitted my mistake to the SLED list:
We use Second Life, we're used to backend database problems!

Myself to myself - What not to Rez follow-up

I went to the Emerge event.

I turned up incognito - it was a party at a conference about online identity after all.

I kept myself to myself by and large.

Here's a picture of Josie Oh dancing. Nice dress mate!

It was fun ... but might have been more interesting if everyone had come as an alt?

'What not to Rez' fashion show

The JISC Emerge project are hosting an evening of entertainment, What not to Rez, on Emerge Island later this evening - 7pm UK time.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Second Friends profile images

One of the original design features of Second Friends was that it would re-use people's in-world profile image as the image displayed on their Facebook profile and in their friends' 'My friends' list. The idea was that as little as possible of the Second Life profile information should be replicated in Facebook.

Linden Lab serves your in-world profile image on the Web at a URL of the form:

and I currently display this in the Second Friends part of people's Facebook profile.

Unfortunately, the images are served in the wrong aspect ratio and in a form that is not cachable by the browser. To make things worse, there is often a significant delay in the way they are served. I don't know if LL do this to discourage their use in external applications such as Second Friends but whatever the reasoning or rationale, the bottom line is that using them is unreliable.

I've therefore added a feature that allows people to add a URL of an image of their avatar to their Second Friends preferences. Go to the My preferences tab to make use of this. It's up to people to find themselves a place to host the image, but Flickr is an obvious choice.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Second Friends news

I've added a couple of new features to my Second Friends Facebook application...

Firstly, it now offers a My friends' friends feature, allowing you to grow your Second Friends social network by looking for friends of your friends.

Secondly, some limited support for Twitter has been added. If you have a Twitter account, you can now add details about it to Second Friends. This will result in your most recent tweet appearing next to your entry in your friends' My friends list. Similarly, as your friends add this feature, you will start to see their most recent tweets in your My friends list.

In due course, I plan to create an in-world object that will display your friends' tweets to you while you are in Second Life.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Fan sites thru the ages

The earliest list of SL fan sites (as listed on that I can find in the Internet Archive is from Sept 2004 - about three and a half years ago.

It seems hard not to read this list as public endorsement by Linden Lab of a bunch of names and domains that would now fall foul of the new branding guidelines.

As far as I can tell, this list was maintained on the site until Dec 2005 with many of the sites concerned remaining on that list for the whole of that time.

I'm not sure what happened to the fan sites list after that date. No record of it remains in the Internet Archive (at least, not at that particular URL) as far as I can tell.

Clarification of branding guidelines - the mud is clearing but it's still mud

Linden Lab have issued some clarification around their new branding guidelines.

While the clarification is welcomed and provides some useful... err... clarification, it doesn't get round the fundamental problem that some of the new guidelines are plain stupid - especially given what has gone before.

The new guidelines might well have been perfectly reasonable if they had been in place from the outset. But to sit back for several years and allow (and possibly even implicitly encourage?) the widespread use of 'second life' and 'sl', particularly in domain names, and only now tell people that it is not allowed is completely unacceptable IMHO.

Of course, one could argue that LL would not be where they are today if they had enforced these kinds of policies from the outset and that attempts to restrict the use of these terms in product names, projects, domain names and elsewhere would probably have had a huge negative impact on the success of SL.

How many URLs to SL-related content are about to be broken? How many new domain names will have to be registered? What will happen to the old ones? How many SL-related domain names are about to fall into the hands of porn sites?

Ciaran Laval has a nice post that replays (part of?) the old branding guidelines - Change policy first, explain it later.

Eye in hand

Interesting resource about the use of 'eye in hand' imagery in various cultures:

Eye in hand - the study of a multi-cultural icon

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Congressional hearing on virtual worlds

I watched the bulk of the congressional hearing on virtual worlds earlier today but ultimately gave up before the end... frustrated at the direction things were taking.

Philip Rosedale's position statement included quite a long video presentation about Second Life - why on earth would congress be interested in sitting thru 5 minutes of unadulterated SL advertising? - but having used part of his allotted presentation time with the video, he then seemed somewhat bemused to be asked to summarise his position well before he had finished getting thru his written material. Shame. On the other hand, and to be fair, he did much better in what I saw of the questioning phase.

Of the initial position statements, it seemed to me that Larry Johnson of the NMC did best, abstracting away from the specifics of the current technology and focusing on the long term significance of what is happening.

But during questioning it rapidly became clear that congress wasn't really interested in the future anyway. Much more important to them was the potential threat of using Second Life to support terrorist activities, how age verification works or not, and how Linden Lab monitors unusual currency transactions. One got the feeling that the agenda was largely being driven by what we'd call the tabloid media in the UK. Or so it seemed anyway...
Rep. Jane Harman, a California Democrat, called for a clear understanding of how virtual world activity might help the U.S. fight new trends in terrorism.

She stressed that she was not advocating censorship. "I want to make sure these glorious tools are not abused … or changed into tools that facilitate the use of terrorist attacks," she said.

(See story in PC Magzine). Good grief, if congress is worried about the use of technology to support terrorism I suggest that they shut down email, the Web and the mobile phone network for a start. Oh, and they'd better get rid of paper and pencils while they are at it :-(.

Fleep Turque has put together a partial summary of the hearing.

Larry Johnson's full written submission to congress is also available.

[Un]limited ?

Approximate quote from the Florida representative at the congressional hearing on virtual worlds today:
The possibilities offered by virtual worlds are unlimited ... limited only by the imagination of their users.
Hang on mate... are they unlimited or not!?

What LL did next...

There's a nice comment by Deltango Vale on Reuter's EXCLUSIVE - Rosedale to step down as Linden Lab CEO story from which I quote a fairly substantial part here:

How do we fix it?

Linden Lab is a private company, so they can do with Second Life what they wish. We ‘residents’ have the choice of being here or not. At the moment, there is no viable alternative to SL as a comprehensive virtual world. Therefore, Linden Lab still has time to prevent Second Life from becoming the ‘Lotus 123′ or ‘WordPerfect’ of the virtual universe.

1) Regain integrity of the system. Announce the closure of all anonymous accounts on 1 March 2008. ‘Anonymous’ accounts may now be described as accounts without payment information on file or have not been age verified through the ID scheme. Keep the ID scheme during the transition process, but consider phasing it out by the end of the year and returning to credit card verification.

2) Stabilize the financial system. Lift the ban on banks. Present the following message on the login screen: “Rate of return (interest or profit) on any investment is proportional to the amount invested, the length of time invested and the RISK OF NONPAYMENT.” Give residents information, not regulation, and the system will evolve in a healthy and productive way. Reputable businesses providing good customer service will always prevail against fly-by-night operations.

3) Reassert the founding principles of individual liberty and individual responsibility. Resist the temptation to sanitize Second Life. The road to hell is paved with good intentions; the desire to protect residents from themselves will only lead to a downward spiral of regulations to offset the harmful effects of other regulations. Also, Second Life is NOT real life. It is NOT a nation-state. Second Life is virtual, voluntary and adult. We are here by choice precisely to escape the restrictions of real life - and there is no Berlin Wall to prevent us from leaving. As for those who want SL to become more like Disneyland, well, Disneyland already exists. We don’t need another one.

This captures the spirit of my feelings about Second Life. LL seem to have lost their way. Not at a technical level - I mean there are problems at that level but by and large they are livable with - but in terms of becoming overly sensitive to political pressures. This is not overly surprising... but disappointing nonetheless.

That said, I don't expect any new CEO to be able to recapture the ground that SL/LL once held.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


I knew I was in the wrong when I used Linden Lab's hand/eye logo as part of the logo for my Second Friends Facebook application. Dunno why I did it, apart from the fact that it looked quite nice.

Oh well, with the dawning of the InSL era, I've had to redesign everything :-(

The new logo doesn't look to bad, though it's not as nice as the version with the SL hand. Such is life I suppose.

I don't mind being told that I can't use their logo (I did try asking if it was OK but never got a reply) and I recognise that it was my bad for using it in the first place. Sorry LL. But I do object to being told how to write 'Second Life'. It's a dumb move by LL and I don't understand it. Remember when Google tried to tell us that we couldn't use 'google' as a verb' Well, duh!

MindBlizzard has a nice summary of some of this.

Stop press: I'm hearing rumors via Twitter of a blog strike if LL don't clarify the situation in the near future.